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Changing direction into physics/math. Where to start?

Joined
Oct 28, 2017
Messages
1
Location
Canada
#1
Hey guys. I'm currently a student journalist in my first year after scraping through a 2 semester pre-course for an electrical apprenticeship which I turned away from. Although I enjoy everything in my current course from photography to news writing to audio editing and so on, but for some reason it doesn't feel like I'm running at max potential and I'm doubting whether I really want this to be my future. As a kid I was always interested in the sciences, space science to be specific and I've always found physics to be incredible.

Unfortunately during my high school years where I should have been preparing for a future doing something great, I was caught up in depression/drug use/bullshit, and pissed my time away. I've always been capable of being great at any subject I was put in but having little experience in advanced mathematics, none in physics, and having wasted valuable time, I'm daunted with concerns. I'm worried I won't be able to keep up if I make the switch after my current course (if I stay) as I suppose any worthwhile course will not be a simple feat for a beginner. Though this is true, I figure it's not the end all in this situation.

I want to teach myself math from the simple basics up into calculus and I'm going to have to do it on my own and I want to know where I should start. Whether that be a specific online program or certain textbooks I should go out to buy, I need to know from someone who's well versed in this. After that I'm looking to begin to delve into physics at the early levels. Any other ideas to guide me along would be greatly appreciated.
 

QuickTwist

Soothsayer
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
6,439
Location
A hut in the woods
#2
@EditorOne

Additionally, I'd look up Khan Academy.
 

Serac

Prolific Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2017
Messages
1,046
Location
Stockholm
#3
1: along the way you will at least once start to question your innate ability to learn this stuff. That is natural and realize that the reason e.g. mathematics has the reputation of being something you either "get" or not is that there is no method, as of yet, out there to train for mathematics systematically like there are methods for learning, say, how to play the piano.

2. Focus on building the right mental representations of the concepts. If you want to learn, say, differentiation, don't just learn all the differentiation rules like dx^n / dx = nx^(n-1). Try to understand the definition of differentiation. In school they usually don't teach you how to think about this stuff, they only teach you to manipulate algebraic symbols. Newton himself believed algebra was just of expressing what you already understand, not a way of understanding things in itself. I think that is very true.

3. The most important thing is mental representation. You sometimes see self-taught people try to answer questions on math.stackexchange and whatnot, and they are usually easy to spot because they don't have a real mathematician's mindset. They learned the lingo and the techniques but they haven't learned how to think properly about the concepts. So, to avoid becoming like that, get as much interaction with skilled mathematicians as possible. If you don't have access to them physically, one way is to ask and answer questions on math.stackexchange. People there enjoy punishing sloppy mathematics, and that is very good.

4. Engage in a process of trial and failure where the failures are explicitly identifiable. Solving practice problems where you have access to the answers is a decent method for that, I guess. But look very closely at what exactly went wrong whenever you made mistakes. There is really no way of learning anything unless you get feedback. And you cannot any feedback unless you do things that can generate mistakes. For example merely reading stuff is *not* a way to learn mathematics. You have to get your elbows in the mud. It's definitely not a pleasurable process, but it's the only way.

5. Have specific goals. Set up the broad topics you want to learn, and what sort of problems you would want to solve within each one. That is obviously hard to know in advance, but you can do this by looking up curriculums of university courses in Calculus. Typically, they will probably include:
- Real numbers and continuity
- Sequences, series and limits
- Differentiation
- Integration

I don't have any suggestions for specific books on Calculus, because there are so many of them. But if you plan to enroll at some specific university, I would simply look up the books they use and use that as a starting point.

There is a lot to say about the best way to learn this stuff and I am probably forgetting a lot. Feel free to ask more questions. But they key elements are:
- Observe how skilled mathematicians think
- Get your elbows in the mud with a process based on trial-and-error with feedback
- Have specificity in your goals
 

cosmicflow

Intp female
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
40
#4
For physics try Feynman's lectures vol 1,2,3 it contains the basics and helps u understand the physics not just learning formulas ,and there is an other book called exercises for Feynman's lectures but i don't think there are solutions to the problems in it . well my advice is to learn concepts not facts
 

gps

INTP 5w4 Iconoclast
Joined
Mar 16, 2010
Messages
200
Location
Upstate NY, USA, Earth
#5
I want to teach myself math from the simple basics up into calculus and I'm going to have to do it on my own and I want to know where I should start.
Can we slow down a second?

When I entered college after a 4-years stint in the US Navy I tried to enroll in a 2-year drafting program which would earn me an AAS which would supposedly satisfy local employers of draftsmen.
Nothing doing! Not without a admin functionary sitting me down at a terminal to do an `aptitude' test.

I get that you're a student of journalism and are doing well-enough with your studies, grades, and such.
Off the top of my head I see NO transferable skills, attributes, or proclivities in common between JOURNALISM and either math or physics.
Thus ... why not take an aptitude test and perhaps Multiple Intelligences test to better ground your new endevor?

I'm not trying to discourage you so much as ground your goal as a doable course of activity.

Do you have any ideas for jobs you might want to qualify-for or DO with a physics and/or math degree?

I can understand how an INTP would study physics, math or such out of curiosity or as an amusing hobby.
As a tech weenie I have a couple of engineering tech degrees which allow me to APPLY physics and math towards potentially profitable enterprises.
How do physics majors and math majors make money without applying either/both to Engineering?

Wanna be a programmer for Wall St.?
What do you have in mind ... if I may ask?